Daniel Ricciardo rejected ‘stratospheric’ Red Bull offer, Christian Horner reveals

The Australian is now the teammate of Lando Norris at McLaren

Dan Austin
Friday 01 April 2022 12:06 BST
(Getty Images)

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has revealed that Daniel Ricciardo turned down a “stratospheric” offer to remain with the team before choosing to leave for Renault in 2019.

The Australian originally stepped up to Red Bull from sister team Scuderia Toro Rosso in 2014, and beat four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel in his debut season with the Milton Keynes-based squad. Ricciardo won seven races in five seasons with the team, before being comprehensively outscored by teammate Max Verstappen and deciding to move on in order to avoid playing second fiddle to the Dutchman.

After two seasons with Renault in which he was unable to challenge for race victories, Ricciardo joined McLaren at the beginning of 2021 but has struggled since then. Despite an unexpected win at Monza last season, Ricciardo has been consistently out-paced by younger teammate Lando Norris and has struggled to score strong results, with this season’s McLaren car off the pace at the rear of the midfield.

“Daniel could see Max in the ascendancy and he didn’t want to become the second driver,” Horner told The Weekend Australian, adding that the terms of the deal offered “were stratospheric.”

Since Ricciardo left Red Bull, the team has gradually moved towards the top of the running order and in 2021 built a car fast enough for Verstappen to secure his maiden world championship after an intense title fight with Lewis Hamilton. In the early stages of the current campaign, the team is challenging for wins against Ferrari, while Ricciardo has yet to score a single point with McLaren. Horner believes that time has shown Ricciardo made the wrong decision.

“His timing was spectacularly bad because obviously, he had doubts about the Honda engine and then [Honda] went on to prove there it was a competitive power unit and a race-winning package,” Horner explained. “Daniel is a great driver and we were sad when he decided to leave the team here.”

“It’s unfortunately not worked out for him the way he would have liked. He’s great natural abilities, a big personality. Of course, now he’s got a competitive teammate as well. It’s given him a hard time and you know, that’s tough for him.’’

The third round of the 2022 Formula 1 season takes place at Albert Park in Melbourne, Australia on the weekend of 8 April.

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